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The latest video from our good buddies His Mis. They had a great CD realease party for The Perfect Lover. They have a few other things planned including an all-ages release party (most likely at Eclipse).

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It’s going to be an awesome time. So get off the couch, buckle your pants and head down to Big V’s!

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Poster designed by your’s truly.

I am probably the last person to recommend a music festival to anyone. I much prefer to see live music in a setting that is amenable to the rule of hundreds (being less than 100 feet from the stage, and in the presence of less than 100 people) and most importantly, hippie-free. Hacksacks, hemp jewelry, and worst of all the scent of patchouli are the garlic to my musical vampirism. The silver bullet to the werewolf of my musical enjoyment.

BUT!

I must say, if at all possible, you really ought to check out the Deep Blue Festival. Focusing on grittier punk-blues the festival plays at the Washington County Fairgrounds July 18-20. This ain’t Famous Daves people. This is the purest state of the blues as we know it today. And if you can’t make it to the festival stop into Big V’s on the 18th and the 19th for the afterparty to see more live music from some of the festival bands. (Big V’s has also received a Gold Star Rating in The Rule of Hundreds Standards from The Acme Siren’s Council for the Enjoyment of Music. It’s also a hackysack free zone!)

The inimitable Jesse Hoolihan is playing at Seneca’s B-Day Bashtastic on June 28th at Big V’s in Midway with some other hip hoppers. Poster designed by yours truly.

So last weekend I was pleased to hear that Eclipse Records in St Paul had finally opened the doors to its all ages in-store venue. In a previous life Eclipse was located on trendy Grand Ave. It was dogged by complaints and licencing issues due to the retail/residential locale. Eclipse can now be found on not-so-trendy University Ave, halfway between Porky’s drive-in and Tracks Bar and Grill. Hopefully this new location will allow them to put on louder and later shows more frequently.

I had missed the opening show by one week. Superhopper broke in the venue in fine form I’m sure. I made down last Friday to catch Landspeeder rock out. Those of you who are familiar with all-ages shows you will know that these shows have a few key characteristics. For those of you who are unfamiliar I will list them here.

Sound Quality Most all-ages venues have terrible sound. This can usually be attributed to the fact that most all-ages venues were not music venues in the first place, many are coffee shops or church hall basements. Places that are not necessarily known for superior acoustics. But hey, when you’re 18 it’s not about hearing the guitar solos or the vocals clearly. It’s about seeing live music! It’s not like your going to complain to the management and threaten to take your business elsewhere, because there usually isn’t an ‘elsewhere’. All-ages venues (at least in this town) are not wide-spread. You take what you can get.

Eclipse sounded pretty good as far as all-ages venues go. It’s no Orchestra Hall, or Turf Club even ,but as I mentioned before it’s not about the sound. The space is small and intimate, rectangular and black. Couple the small size of the venue with smaller crowds (due to earlier shows) and I’d happily go to Eclipse over, say, the 400 Bar and a few other local venues.

No Drinking/Talking about Drinking Of course no alcohol is served at all-ages shows, but incidentally one of the things I disliked about all-ages shows when I was underage was all the talk about drinking and getting drunk. Not because I don’t like drinking, but because at the time I couldn’t. It’s as if drinking was the default topic of conversation between songs. “Oh, we got so loaded last night.” “I’m totally not drunk enough yet.” “You’ll need to excuse us, we’ve been drinking backstage.” I can see how all this drunken banter could be frustrating for the underage crowd, but it should also fuel the fire in your belly. It should get you riled up and excited for that time when you are able to attend 21+ shows. It’s a little glimpse into the future, and what you have to look forward to. For better or for worse.

Landspeeder filled this need rather well. If you’ve ever seen Landspeeder play you’ll know what I’m talking about. I actually had a few white russians with the guys at Tracks Bar down the street from Eclipse, so I can attest that they were pretty drunk.

Underage Patrons So everyone knows that all-ages shows are for show-goers of all ages. But the most important demographic are those under the age of 21. The younger the better actually. It’s these people that will be supporting the music scene after the current 21+ show-goers get desk jobs and mortgages, and can’t make it out to 3 shows a week. This is why the return of the all-ages venue to the Twin Cities is so important. While there is no shortage of local bands, there has been something of a recession in the ‘scene’. I almost hate to call it that, a ‘scene’, but that’s honestly the best word for it. For every band that plays on stage there needs to be an audience on the floor. That audience doesn’t just show up out of the blue. They have to come from somewhere, and lately there’s been fewer and fewer of them. As I’ve stated earlier, the music just isn’t as fast and as loud anymore. Sure, there are still a lot of good bands playing around town, some of them from when I was a 3-nights-a-week regular at the local venues, but that scene has moved on. Out of state, out of town, out of touch. What’s left is a generational gap. There just isn’t a healthy scene to pick up the torch and burn the mother down like was done in the olden days.

Maybe I’m just too far out of touch with the scene. As I said before, I’m not going to nearly as many shows as I used to. Who am I to say what’s right and what’s wrong with the scene. But it can’t be denied that the health of the scene relies as much upon the health of the audience as it does the musicians. And the all-ages venue can, and is, a life changing factor in the lives of both show-goers and musicians, and, by extension, the ‘scene’.

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I just got out of an all-day-multi-agency meeting.

Right now I’m looking through Landspeeder’s photos

It makes me want to quit my day job and pick up the guitar again.

Incidentally, Landspeeder is playing a show at Big Vs this Saturday. I’ll be there. Living vicariously. Say ‘hi’ if you see me.

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Dear First Avenue,

We’ve been together for a long time. 10 years. 10 good years. You were my first real music club, and I’ll always cherish the memories we’ve had together. I know this is awkward, it being Valentine’s day and all, but I don’t think I can see you anymore. Things have changed. I’m a different person than I was 10 years ago. And I don’t think I have to tell you that I’ve been going to other clubs. I know you think they’re small and dirty and you don’t understand why I like them, but I do. I just do. I think it’s fair to say that you’ve changed a lot too. I remember the first show I saw with you; The Melvins. Remember that? Three sets! 2 all-ages sets and a late-night 21+ show! It was magical. I wanted it to last forever. Or the John Spencer Show. That’s still one of the best nights of my life! But at the DJ Shadow/Cut Chemist show last week it was like I didn’t even know you. And the people you were with! What’s up with that? Half of them didn’t even know who was playing! You know the only reason they hang out with you is because they think you’re cool. It’s not because they like the music.

It’s not like we’ll never see each other again. I’ll still be around every once in awhile for shows at the Entry. I’ll be sure to say ‘hi’. But I think it’s best if we each go our separate ways for awhile. You need to do what you need to do, and I need to do what I need to do.

Later,
Nick

The long awaited video for His Mischief’s “Do You Know Your Neighbors” is now out! Keep an eye out for these boys. Reliable sources tell the Siren that they are taking some time off to work on a new album, but we’re sure they’ll be back to kicking out the jams in your town real soon.

Also, His Mischief was voted “Best Looking Band” by the City Pages Readers’ Poll for the past 3 years!

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If you’ve picked up this week’s issue of the City Pages you have no doubt seen the full spread “Rock Atlas” centerfold. If not you can see it online here. While I think this is a great idea I did notice a surprising lack of St. Paul venues. Big V’s for one, along with Cheapo Records (Minneapolis or St. Paul), the Artist’s Quarter, and Eclipse records (who were mentioned in passing in the Turf Club description {also to note, while the ceiling may be original the bar certainly is not. The original bar ran down the center of the space.})

Part of me wants to rail against this as another oversight in a long list of pandering and foolish acts of ‘journalism’ from the City Pages. The ‘local’ paper that’s about as local as: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis-Saint_Paul

But another part of me says, “Yes! That’s right! Stick to your Uptown Bars and your Triple Rocks! To publish the underground is to destroy the underground!” But, St Paul isn’t even that ‘underground’. Many of the shows are advertised in the City Pages along with the rest of the Minneapolis shows. People just don’t care enough. They don’t care enough to drive across the river. They don’t care enough to see a band they’ve never heard of. They don’t care enough to spend the required amount of time learning the St Paul scene. Unless the show/band/bar is given lip service on The Current people just don’t seem to care (I am making sweeping generalizations here. But they are generally sweepingly accurate). Which is fine. I don’t particularly don’t care much for the Minneapolis scene. Unless there’s a show I want to see, or there are uncontrollable circumstances which require me to cross the river.

I’m just as adverse to the MPLS scene as MPLS is to STP. Frankly I get enough of the MPLS just opening City Pages. And that’s O.K. with me. I’m fine with keeping my little family here on the east side of the mighty Miss’ without anyone else ruining it. So listen to your City Pages. There’s no music here. Just a quiet town with little buildings and cheap parking. And the gangs, don’t forget the gangs! There’s nothing to see here. Keep moving. No reason to stop. Have you seen Tiny Tim’s grave at the Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis? I hear it’s beautiful this time of year.

In a chance occurrence, I was looking through the Minneapolis paper last week (those of you who know me will note that I prefer the St Paul paper on a account that they run Zippy The Pinhead) and what did I happen to see? An arts listing hyping the Festival of Appropriation, which was being held at the Soap Factory. And Steinski was listed as playing a live set! Steinski is one of the early pioneers of hip-hop sampling and mash-up technique. He paved the way for DJs such as DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, and Danger Mouse. His music was never very easy to come by. While he did release a few albums, his iconic “Lessons”, numbered 1-3, are tougher to come by because of their generous sampling of copyrighted material. With the rise of the internet his music, along with other sample based music, has become more readily available. (psst. you can download Lessons 1-3 from this website. don’t tell Canada)

While I think the show would have been better had it been in a real music club rather than in an art gallery, it was still fun to see the actual Steinski. I felt a bit like I was going to see Harley Ear, the man who first put tailfins on cars. While undoubtedly influential, I knew next to nothing about this man who has spent much of his life in obscurity, known only to die-hard fans and historians of a specific genre.

Ok. Let’s recap what we learned.

1. Steinski wears a fanny-pack. I don’t mean to put him down for it, but it strikes me as a little strange. I guess it makes sense if you’re traveling around a lot, playing gigs by yourself, and want to keep your personal items from being stolen. And when you’ve written a large chapter in the giant book of hip-hop history I guess you can wear whatever the hell you want. I’m surprised Diddy’s Sean John clothing line doesn’t offer one made from red velour studded with rhinestones.

2. I hardly knew ANYTHING he played. It was all fantastic, but I didn’t recognize 90 percent of it! Although, with a 20 year head start on me it makes sense that his record collection should be a bit larger than mine.

3. Steinski seems like a really nice guy. I remember seeing him in Scratch and he seemed cool, cracking jokes and what-not. Seeing him in person, I felt the same way. He was chatting with a few people, checking out the people, making sure everyone was jiving to what he was playing. He just seemed really genuine.

4. Latin music is the best bet when you want the people to dance. Most of Steinski’s show was early hip-hop, funk and soul, and with this being Minnesota, not many people were dancing. There was a small dance-off between two dudes, but that was hardly inspiring. To successfully incite dance, women are needed. One woman dancing alone acts as a lone nucleon in a particle accelerator, gathering speed and pulling in those nearest to her until she eventually collides with the other particles, releasing an enormous amount of collective energy. And the best fuel for this chain reaction is latin music. I was fortunate enough to witness this with my own eyes, without the aid of safety glasses.

5. Argyle is in. In a big way. At least among the art gallery yipster crowd. Argyle sweaters. Argyle ties. Argyle hats. Argyle socks. I think one guy even had argyle glasses. Also, mens footwear is starting to tread that fine line between what’s suitable for the sexes. My prediction, in 5 years it’ll be fashionable for men to wear stilettos. Knitted stilettos.